Four remaining GIPS bond projects on schedule

Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 9:42 PM CDT
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Grand Island's largest school district is undergoing four major construction projects this summer, all of which are on schedule to make their completion date.

The community voted in Sept. 2014 to approve a $69.9 million bond issue to complete seven Grand Island Public Schools building projects.

The current projects include demolishing Jefferson and Stolley Park elementaries to make way for new buildings at their same locations; finishing construction on Starr Elementary's new building at a new location; and expanding and renovating Barr Middle School.

Staff are relocating and operating in tight quarters this summer until they can move into their new classrooms by Aug. 1, according to Dan Petsch, the GIPS director for buildings and grounds.

"We've put all three elementaries into the existing old Starr Elementary and so they're cohabiting," Petsch said. "The Barr folks are over in the Career Pathways building."

Stolley Park and Jefferson elementary schools just began their demolitions. Asbestos needs to be removed from Jefferson before more leveling work can be done over the next couple of months, Petsch added. The school is also out for a bid for a general contractor.

Both have a completion date for their new buildings of Summer 2019.

Until then, plan is in place to move students.Those who attended Stolley Park will attend the new Starr Elementary for two years.

One of the more noticeable projects drivers will see completed by the fall is a one-way roundabout on Adams Street between Barr Middle School and Starr Elementary. It's meant to lessen congestion for the campuses.

Public Works Director John Collins recommends parents check out the roundabout before school starts to see how it works.

"Since every parent of every kid going to either school wants to be there in the same five-minute period, it's not going to be easy," Collins stated. "It'll be better than otherwise but it won't be easy."

Construction on Barr and Starr is expected to be complete in August in time for the start of school, though some work at BMS won't be complete until November.

The other three bond projects already completed include the renovation of Grand Island Senior High's 100-wing, and making Engleman and Shoemaker elementary schools both four-unit buildings.